Photos: Broadway's Cabaret Celebrates Joel Grey's Birthday | Playbill

Photos Photos: Broadway's Cabaret Celebrates Joel Grey's Birthday

Grey originated the role of The Emcee in the musical's 1966 Broadway premiere, receiving a Tony Award for his performance.

Joel Grey, Gayle Rankin, and Eddie Redmayne Jenny Anderson

Broadway legend Joel Grey commemorated his 92nd birthday April 11 with an onstage celebration at the August Wilson Theatre, currently home to the new revival of Cabaret. See company members Eddie Redmayne and Gayle Rankin celebrate with Grey in the photos above and below.

Grey originated the role of The Emcee in the John Kander, Fred Ebb, and Joe Masteroff musical's 1966 Broadway premiere, receiving a Tony Award for his performance. Grey would then return to the role in the musical's 1987 revival, and in Bob Fosse's 1972 film adaptation. 

Joel Grey and Eddie Redmayne Jenny Anderson

“Tonight is an extraordinarily special night for us because we are in the presence of an extraordinary human being without whom none of us would be here,” Redmayne said in a curtain call speech. “[Grey's] performance in this part changed my life, and it was one of the things that made me want to be an actor.”

Several stars were on hand for the celebration (and giant pineapple cake), including Cabaret composer John Kander, Joel's daughter Jennifer Grey, Anderson Cooper, Candice Bergen, Jackie Hoffman, Jane Krakowski, Lin-Manuel Miranda, and David Rockwell; plus Cabaret alumni Maude Apatow, Madeline Brewer, Joely Fisher, Gina Gershon, Mason Alexander Park, Adam Pascal, Molly Ringwald, Jake Shears, and Brooke Shields.

Cabaret began previews at Broadway's Kit Kat Club (née August Wilson Theatre) April 1, with a gala celebration to be held April 20, and an official opening April 21. Directed by Rebecca Frecknall, this immersive staging comes to New York from London's West End, where it won seven 2022 Olivier Awards including Best Musical Revival.

The Broadway cast is led by Oscar, Tony, and Olivier winner Redmayne, reprising his London performance as The Emcee; Rankin (Glow) as Sally Bowles; Ato Blankson-Wood (Slave Play) as Cliff; Bebe Neuwirth as Fraulein Schneider; Steven Skybell as Herr Schultz; Natascia Diaz as Fraulein Kost and Fritzie; and Henry Gottfried (Waitress) as Ernst Ludwig.

READ: How to Get $25 Tickets to Broadway's Cabaret

The cast also includes Marty Lauter (AKA Marcia Marcia Marcia of RuPaul's Drag Race season 15) as Victor, Gabi Campo as Frenchie, Ayla Ciccone-Burton as Helga, Colin Cunliffe as Hans, Loren Lester as Herman/Max, David Merino as Lulu, Julian Ramos as Bobby, MiMi Scardulla as Texas, and Paige Smallwood as Rosie. Swings include Hannah Florence, Pedro Garza, Christian Kidd, Chloé Nadon-Enriquez, Corinne Munsch, and Karl Skyler Urban.

As in the production's West End run, the theatre has been transformed into an in-the-round Kit Kat Club. Ticket holders receive a "club entry time" before their show date so that everyone's able to take in the pre-show, which can even include a full dinner at some ticket levels. The prologue company, a group of 12 dancers and musicians, will welcome theatregoers with a pre-show performance beginning approximately 75 minutes prior to curtain time.

The Broadway prologue company comprises dancers Alaïa, Iron Bryan, Will Ervin Jr., Sun Kim, and Deja McNair. The musicians include Brian Russell Carey on piano and bass, Francesca Dawis on violin, Maeve Stier on accordion, and Michael Winograd on clarinet. Rounding out the company are dancer swings Ida Saki and Spencer James Weidie, and dedicated substitute musician Keiji Ishiguri.

READ: Eddie Redmayne On How His Emcee in Cabaret Is a Shape Shifter

Based on Christopher Isherwood's Goodbye to Berlin and John Van Druten's dramatization of it, I Am a Camera, Cabaret is set in Weimar-era Berlin as American writer Clifford Bradshaw arrives to work on his novel and soak up the debaucherous nightlife. He meets English cabaret performer Sally Bowles and a complex relationship develops, all as the Nazis ascend to power and the spectre of World War II and all its horrors loom on the horizon.

Much of the production's creative team is reprising their work for the Broadway bow, including choreographer Julia Cheng; club, set, and costume designer Tom Scutt; lighting designer Isabella Byrd; sound designer Nick Lidster (for Autograph); and music supervisor and director Jennifer Whyte. Hair and wig design is by Sam Cox, and Guy Common is handling makeup design. Prologue composition and music direction is by Angus MacRae, with Jordan Fein serving as prologue director. Casting is by Bernard Telsey and Kristian Charbonier, and Thomas Recktenwald serves as production stage manager.

The revival is the musical's first new staging on the Main Stem since the 1998 revival, which was also a London transfer. That 1998 production was revived in 2014. Revivals of previous stagings are not uncommon for Cabaret.

The oft-produced work premiered in 1966 with Harold Prince at the helm and Grey starring. The original staging (with some revisions) was brought back to Broadway, with Grey reprising his performance, in a 1987 revival. The 1998 version of Cabaret, a more dramatic revision of the work, starred Alan Cumming as the Emcee—Cumming won the Tony for his performance and came back with the production when it was revived in 2014.

The musical was famously adapted for the big screen by director-choreographer Bob Fosse, with Liza Minnelli starring as Sally Bowles. The film version, considerably darker and seedier than Prince's staging, won eight Academy Awards and is considered by many one of the best films ever made. Revisions to the stage work since the 1972 film have largely transplanted the film's energy into the script—along with some of its new songs, including "Mein Herr" and "Maybe This Time."

READ: 50 Years of Cabaret: The Surprisingly Transformative Journey of a Classic

The Broadway transfer is being produced by Ambassador Theatre Group Productions, Underbelly, Gavin Kalin Productions, Hunter Arnold, Smith & Brant Theatricals, and Wessex Grove.


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